Oh my gosh! The rest of November and beginning of December have been very exciting for the garden. First off, Matt built my cold frame. A cold frame is basically a mini greenhouse built out of wood and some sort of plastic (we used acrylic sheeting). Mine slips right on top of my raised bed and is meant to heat up during the day (via the sun) and retain its heat throughout the night. It is best to keep your cold frame as close to the plants as possible, that way there is less area for the sun to heat. This will keep your plants warmer and happier. We went back and forth on a height for the cold frame and finally decided on a foot in the front and foot and a half in the back. That way in the future if we have taller stuff growing in the bed, it will have room to grow. We did a slanted design in hopes that when the snow begins to melt, it will run off of the top of the bed rather than pool up on the top. This also gives us the luxury of planting taller item in the back. If anyone is interested in building a cold frame in the future, just let me know in the comments. I can have Matt draft up a plan of how he built this beauty.
So it is official…winter is coming! I know this isn’t really a shocker considering it is November, but those first few snowflakes always make it seem official. That and the fact that our temperatures here haven’t seen above the 40’s for quite some time now. The past few nights have dipped into the 20’s. So sad! So what does that mean for my winter gardening experiment? A few things:
So I am super excited to say, the weather finally took a turn for the better around here!! We have been enjoying unusually warm weather, in the mid 70s, and sunny skies. Which is just what I needed for some seed germination. Now I have a mass of seedlings going on…time for some thinning out! I have a confession about thinning: like most people, I find it very hard to pull out the cute little seedlings and seemingly perfect plants! Why waste them and throw them in the garbage?! Trust me friends, just do it. As much as it may pain you now, you will be even more depressed when all of your plants look like little string beans reaching for the light and competing with each other for nutrients. Then you won’t have ANY kale! OMG! Just thin now and avoid this horrible conundrum.
Side note- if you wait for your seedlings to get a little larger you can use them as micro greens in a yummy salad!!!
The idea of going outside in 3 feet of snow and pulling fresh spinach from the garden for dinner is so intriguing (and seemingly impossible). So naturally, I am diving in head first to give winter gardening a try. My go-to strategy when learning something new is to head to Amazon and buy a book or 2 on the subject. This is exactly what I did and it made me so eager to get started! I ripped out my zucchini plant at the end of August and had 9 square feet of empty garden to play with; so I mixed in some fresh soil and sprinkled in a mix of spinach, kale, and mustard green seeds that I had left over from my spring planting. Let me tell you, planting seeds in September feels so wrong, which makes it that much more exciting!! I didn’t know how many seeds would germinate seeing as the temperatures are dropping and sunlight hours are fading, so I just opened up the packets and let them fly. I figure I will worry about thinning later!
Many people think of September as the end of summer, and therefore the end of garden fresh veggies. This is so far from the truth! Yes, plants are beginning to die off and many are slowing on production, but September is the beginning of fall veggies like butternut squash, apples, pumpkins, brussel sprouts, grapes, and cabbage! September is also still cranking out tomatoes and peppers like it’s a job. As temperatures cool, there are also a few surprises in the garden. Those strawberry plants that have been looking half dead all summer are suddenly producing a late season crop of fresh berries. Lettuce and kale can again thrive without the summer heat killing them. Onions and carrots are starting to pop through the soil, telling you they are ready to pull.
I took some pictures of my garden tonight to show you what is growing on on my little plot of land in September: